Hall of Fame News

Hall of Famer Spotlight: John and Rita Gregory

May 11, 2023

By Keaton Maisano

With the warming of the weather throughout the country comes the ramping up of motocross season.

In theme with the annual awakening of motorcycling’s extremely popular sport, May’s Hall of Famer Spotlight shines its light on two individuals that impacted motocross in a big way during the 1970s and ’80s: John and Rita Gregory.

The married couple met at an Oklahoma municipal swimming pool where Rita worked. After John graduated from pharmacy school, the pair packed up a car and traveled to California to open a pharmacy. Once on the West Coast, John got involved in District 37 desert racing.

In 1968, John and Rita discovered a certain style of cotton soccer sock in a Tijuana, Mexico sporting goods store they felt would be better than the itchy, wool surplus socks most motocross and desert racers were wearing at the time. They began buying dozens at a time and selling them out of the back of their car at the races, and then from the pharmacy once they caught on, ostensibly to finance John’s racing efforts.

Two years after discovering the socks, and after linking up with AMA Hall of Famer Lars Larsson (who was importing Hallman gear from Europe), they formed JT Racing and began selling socks, assorted accessories and Hallman gear, with Larsson becoming, in essence, JT’s first distributor.

John and Rita then signed AMA Hall of Famer and world champion Joel Robert to endorse the product line, and in the decade to come would sign a handful of the very best riders in the world to do the same, including AMA Hall of Famers Roger DeCoster, Marty Smith, Marty Tripes, Ricky Johnson, David Bailey, Bob Hannah, Johnny O’Mara, Broc Glover, Jeff Ward and others.

Initially selling socks, rugby jerseys, air filters, and unique nylon-leather pants, JT Racing USA expanded its inventory to include chest protectors and helmets – and soon became the largest and most powerful gear company in the world.

In the 1980s, increased competition for sponsored riders and a wave of new gear companies, plus a fascination with selling paintball gear in that then-expanding sport, kickstarted JT Racing’s exit from the sport. And by 1993, the company was no longer involved in motocross, the Gregorys eventually selling the company.

John and Rita Gregory were inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2010.